Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Maintenance and Backup
Read the article that everyone's commenting on.
No one mentioned backing up your data before sending your system in for repairs. If you haven’t done this yet, you are getting the cart before the horse. Assuming, however, that you can, and have backed up your system…
Encrypting your data might keep it out of the hands of others but besides loss from theft, other things can happen that might cause you to lose your data altogether. If you need to ship the system in for repairs, it could be physically damaged in transit or there are a number of other things that could happen. For example, it's not unheard of for a "service depot" technician to perform a destructive re-install of the operating system in an attempt to fix what he thinks is a software problem. They’re hardware experts, and usually not experienced at fixing software problems, so sometimes they use the “shotgun” approach. When you get your system back, it works just like it did when it was brand new. --Without your programs and data!
Of course you have your backups, but it can take a lot of time and effort to get your system back to a point where you can be productive again. --Installing programs, restoring data, setting up Windows the way you like it, etc, etc…
For this reason, I prefer Leo’s second suggestion. If at all possible, arrange to send the system in with a different or no hard drive. It’s the only way to be 100% sure you won’t lose any data either from theft or mishap.
Back everything p regularly with a disk imagine program and then wipe the disk -properly -before sending in the pc for repair
If possible I would put in a substitute hard drive if available.Almost everyone I know that has brought a PC in for repair has had the hard drive formatted by the tech even if you leave instructions for them now to do so.
I "Hide" my sensitive folders with Free Hide Folders from http://www.itusoft.com/hide_folder/free_hide_folder.htm
works for me but don't lose your password. I THINK they can help you recover it if you lose it so maybe a service person could also pretend to be YOU and get that help to get into your stuff.
My Solution - I have a second H/D that I have straped as a slave and use hardware from Manhatan (Hi-speed USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Adapter w/powersupply about $25.00). That way I can save my data to the slave and after any repairs I just transfer my data back to my orignal H/D. Very User friendly.
Sending back a laptop without a booting hard disk drive is not acceptable to at least one of the largest mfg's (provided the problem is not the hdd). Jim's solution above would be one the best.
This is basically Jim's ans above but with a twist. It seems to me that the simplest way is to put your sensitive data on an external drive. With your data there it doesn't matter what happens to your computer. Basically, you don't worry about sensitive data on your computer because it never was on your computer in the first place. BTW, I just got a 1TB drive for under $130.
I'm glad that there are others that have taken the words right out of my mouth. Always do you best to learn how to keep your pants at your waistline and not at your knees. LOL Shawn Patrick from Toronto, Canada
When I get a new computer or install a new HDD, the the first thing is to make an image of the HDD with Acronis True Image to external media. Then make regular image backups. Before turning the computer over to someone else, Wipe the HDD and put the orignal image back on it.
Some very good suggestions. Thanks. However one of my concerns, not covered, is how to securely lockdown one's email client prior to handing over the computer? Seems to me that email itself often contains a huge amount of personal data. Mine sure does. Password protection of the app is sometimes possible, but useless, as so easily broken.
Just a word here too about the security passwords built into laptops. These provide very good protection, too good, as I found out to my lasting regret when I spilt a BIT of water onto the k'board. Some of the keys shorted and I was no longer able to enter a part of my password, so was permanently locked out of my laptop. An external USB keyboard of course was no help at all. These passwords are so built-in esp. the SVP which I believe resides in a hidden chip on the m'board, that you're hosed if you forget them or have a disaster like mine. Seems there's no password unlocking utilty around that can recover them. Well I certainly hadn't forgotten mine. So be warned!
If anyone's got any lateral thinking on a solution for this, other than a new MB, please reply.
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